Overview

What Does a Midwife Do?

What Does a Midwife Do?

For many women, a nurse midwife is the perfect choice for their pregnancy or gynecology care. A nurse midwife is a registered nurse who receives extra training from an accredited midwifery program and becomes board certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.

Midwives specialize in caring for a pregnant woman and her baby during pregnancy, labor, birth, and for a few weeks after birth. Midwives can also provide general health care services, like routine exams, health coaching, and treating colds, flus, sprains, and other common health problems.

Pregnancy Care / BirthCare-HealthCare

Midwives provide personalized care for you and your baby. This care includes the following services:

  • Prenatal care
  • Labor and delivery care
  • Care after birth including breastfeeding
  • Gynecology exams
  • Newborn care
  • Assistance with family planning decisions
  • Preconception care (care while you’re trying to get pregnant)
  • Menopause management
  • Counseling in health maintenance and disease prevention

When it comes to your pregnancy, one of the biggest differences between a midwife and a doctor is that midwives will deliver your baby at a birthing center. OB/GYNs and other types of doctors usually deliver babies in a hospital. If it's important to you to give birth outside a traditional hospital setting, a certified nurse midwife can safely deliver your baby in the environment you choose.

Midwives also closely focus on your preferences, cultural values, and personal wishes for emotional and social support during your birth.

Gynecology & Primary Care Services

Nurse midwives can also provide primary health care services for women and families. These services can include the following:

  • Acute care (care for any medical condition that lasts less than three months)
    • Colds and allergies
    • Cough
    • Fever or flu
    • Headache
    • Sinusitis
    • Skin rashes and infections
    • Sprains and strains
    • Throat soreness (rapid strep, and the like)
    • Urinary tract screening and treatment of infections
  • Family planning/birth control
  • Health coaching
  • Health-risk assessments
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Immunizations
  • Menopause care
  • Personalized counseling on healthy lifestyles
  • Preconception counseling
  • Preventive care
  • Routine exams
    • Annual pelvic and breast examinations
    • Pre-marital exams
    • Pap tests
    • Other screening tests
  • Screening & treatment for sexually transmitted infections

Midwives listen to women and provide the information you need to make informed and educated decisions about your health care.

What Is the Difference Between a Midwife & a Certified Nurse Midwife?

Home births and alternative birthing experiences are on the rise, and so are the number of midwives who offer to deliver your baby. But many women don't know there's a difference between a certified nurse midwife and a lay midwife (also sometimes called direct-entry midwives).

Certified nurse midwives are licensed health care professionals who are educated in both nursing and midwifery. They must graduate from an accredited education program and pass a difficult certification exam. Because of the high standards for education and certification, CNMs are licensed to deliver babies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Certified nurse midwives also attend continuing education programs at hospitals and universities so they can stay informed about about pregnancy conditions and deliver the safest, highest-quality care to you and your baby.

Benefits of Using A Certified Nurse Midwife

Each year, certified nurse midwives help deliver more than one in 10 babies born in the US. If you have a more difficult labor or birth, you can be assured that a certified nurse midwife has the experience and education to safely monitor and care for you and your baby during labor.

Certified nurse midwives are also trained to manage pregnancies that may have complications, or refer your treatment to a doctor if you need it. Complications can include:

  • having a higher chance of having a preterm birth (having a preemie),
  • needing forceps or a vacuum during delivery,
  • or the mother having a fever.

Unlike lay midwives, certified nurse midwives are also licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners. Compared to lay nurse midwives, certified nurse midwives also attend a much higher number of vaginal births each year.

Finding the Best Nurse Midwife Near You

To find a nurse midwife near you, start with these things:

  • Search your insurance information for your provider directory. This directory will have a list of the midwives covered by your network as well as the locations where they work.
  • Ask family and/or friends for a recommendation.
  • Get a recommendation from your family care or primary care providers.
  • Search online by your city or location to find midwife clinics or centers or near you. Once you find someone you like:
    • Review their online profile for information about them and their patient reviews and/or
    • Check with their office to see what insurance they take.

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Benefits of a Certified Nurse Midwife Vs. a Doctor

In studies with several women (12,276*) looking at midwife care versus care by an obstetrician or family physician, midwife care was found to have as good or better outcomes in every area.

Under midwife care women:

  • Did not need as much anesthesia (epidurals).
  • Had fewer surgical cuts to help a difficult delivery (episiotomies).
  • Needed forceps or vacuum during labor (instrumental birth) less often.
  • Felt better control in labor.
  • Were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal birth.
  • Were more successful at breastfeeding.

Researchers have found over and over that midwife-led care has several benefits for mothers and babies and had no harmful effects.

As highly certified nurse midwives, we care about your experience. We are here to listen to your needs.

*Hatem M, Sandall J, Devane D, Soltani H, Gates S. Midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women.Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. www.cochrane.org